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AWD - expensive to maintain

This is just as a second car - there is no functional need for an AWD.

But there seems less 5 dr hatches nowadays. So I was looking at Subaru impreza. If I am getting a used for around $6k, would I be concerned about getting an AWD - from a cost/maintenance perspective.

Matrix/vibe seems a bit in demand - hard to comeby.

Any other choices, including wagons?

Is Mazda 3 reliable/durable as Matrix? Mazda 3 might be in demand too since certain mkt segment love this car due to its sportiness.

I did see VOlvo wagon, good looking, 2000 model for $6k at the dealer with just over 100k!!! Why the price is so low?

VE Jetta also has station wagon - I don’t think that they are uniformly reliable.


There is a reason for the $6000 price tag. You will be the next owner and will be doing all those expensive maintenance and repair routines. It’s very easy to spend $4000 on such a car if it has not been maintained meticulously.

Also, as you’ve no doubt read in other posts, if you blow a tire and the other 3 are part worn, you have to replace all 4 tires to get the same diameter. Subarus are very fussy about that.

If you want a hatchback, look at a Hyundai Elantra (best value for money), Ford Focus, Malibu Maxx, Matrix, Mazda 3, Pontiac Vibe, Honda Element, Scion, and others.

I would stay away from any Volvo or Volkswagen.

Thanks my friend.

In a few words/lines, you resolved it. Excellent post.

If its Elantra, is there particular yr (and later) are better? Should I expect to run till 100k - and that’s it.

As a long-term owner of 2 Subarus, I think that it is time for me to give some factual response to the frequent “expensive to maintain” comments about that make.

In reality, the only maintenance procedure that is an “extra” on Subarus is the necessity to change the oil in 2 differentials, rather than one diff. Since this procedure takes place on a 3 yr/30k schedule–along with other major maintenance items–it is surely an extra procedure, but it is hardly a very expensive one.

Of course, there is the additional necessity to have 4 closely-matched tires, so one unrepairable puncture on a tire with significant wear will result in the need to either buy 4 tires or to have the replacement tire “shaved” to match the circumference of the 3 remaining tires on the car. However, this is definitely a matter of luck, as to whether one winds up with an unrepairable puncture on a well-worn tire. In reality, that situation has never arisen with either my first Subaru, which currrently is in the hands of a relative, and which has somewhere over 180k on the odometer, or with my present Subie. Clearly luck has been on my side in regard to tire punctures.

Perhaps some people are referring to repair costs when they say that Subarus are “expensive to maintain”. In reality, the only repair on the first Subaru (a '97 Outback Limited) that led to a cash outlay (as opposed to a warranty-related issue) was the dreaded head gasket problem that arose at around 110k. Even though it was well past warranty coverage, Subaru corporate went “halfsies” on that repair and it cost my brother only about $500, IIRC.

The only repair on the second Subaru (an '02 H-6 3.0) was the replacement of the serpentine belt tensioner and a belt pulley at ~95k. For some reason, the bearings in both the tensioner and the pulley were going dry.

So, I believe that I am qualified to give an informed opinion on both maintenance costs and on the frequency of repairs with this brand. In both instances, there is really nothing–with the exception of maintaining two differentials and the '97-'01 head gasket problems–that is out of the ordinary when considering the entire galaxy of car brands out there. After having owned a Chrysler product, a Volvo, a GM product, a VW, a Ford, a Honda, and 2 Subarus, I can honestly state that the Subarus have been the most reliable of the lot, with the least need for repair. (The Volvo was the absolute worst, least reliable, most repair-prone car that I have owned!)

A friend of mine bought a used 2005 Elantra and totally loves it. He had a number of Fords before, and the Hyundai is much more trouble-free. Models prior to 2005 had some paint and trim issues, nothing mechanical or electrical. All post 2005 models have above average reliability.

As with all cars, I would avoid the high performance “sports” models, sliding roofs, and shop for the simplest model that meets your needs.

A well maintained Elantra should get to 100,000 miles without any undue repairs or breakdowns.

Thanks for your perspective;

Expensive term is only due to the fact that the tires having to be matched on a car that was purchased for about $6k. While it is also a luck - tire shops are good at declaring that tires are unrepairable, bad, thread is low, uneven wear etc - for an average owner, these are difficult to dispute unless you are prepared to get a few more opinions. 4 Tire jobs typically cost me $300 to $500! Perhaps the hondas use performance tires that added extra.

I certainly don’t think that the other repairs are that significant.

I belong to an outdoors club and we have 8 Subaru owners. Of those, two are basically neglecting the maintenance and are having very expensive repairs. Those owners are not evil; just not car smart. We want to stress that a used Subaru is a crapshoot unless you have all the maintenance records.

I could probably get 200,000 trouble-free miles out of a new Subaru, but it takes a very punctual and dedicated approach.

Thanks Docnick - excellent post;
I am learning a lot of valuable tips

You guys rock.